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Manager wrongly demoted after posting comments on Facebook

A company manager has won a breach of contract action against his employer after he was demoted for posting a comment on Facebook.

Adrian Smith is a Christian who worked for Trafford Housing Trust (THT). He was demoted after he posted comments on Facebook on the subject of gay marriage in church.

He posted the comment: "The bible is quite specific that marriage is for men and women. If the state wants to offer civil marriage to same sex couples then that is up to the state; but the state shouldn’t impose its rules on places of faith and conscience."

THT took action against him for what it saw as a breach of its Equal Opportunities policy. He was demoted from his managerial position and had to take a 40% salary cut.

The High Court heard that only people who had chosen to connect with his Facebook account were able to read his post. It was argued that as they had connected with his account they had implicitly consented to seek his views. It was also clear that the comments were not made on behalf of the employer.

The court held that THT’s policy regarding Facebook was too unclear to warrant the disciplinary process imposed on Mr Smith.

High Court judge Mr Justice Briggs said: "Mr Smith was taken to task for doing nothing wrong, suspended and subjected to a disciplinary procedure which wrongly found him guilty of gross misconduct, and then demoted to a non-managerial post with an eventual 40% reduction in salary.

"The breach of contract which the Trust thereby committed was serious and repudiatory."

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